These iconic white cigarette-shaped candies have left behind many fond memories throughout the years. This was a staple for the cool kids who wanted to hang out with the smokers and fit in. Children would gather by the streets during after school hours, taking turns to chew these sweetened treats.
Historically, the candy was made from sweets of chalk-like consistency, so which is sometimes mixed with chocolate, mint or bubble gum flavors. They were then wrapped to resemble cigarette products. The product was first imported into the US during the period of the Great Depression and was considered a harmless imitation of cigarettes to be savored by children since little research was conducted on the harms of tobacco.
Early packaging involved a close imitation of cigarette brands and wordplay such as Marboro from Marlboro and Acmel from Camel.
However, in the 1950s, the popularity of the novel candy began to wane as more reports on tobacco complications arose, causing the public to disassociate their children from the candies, fearing that they may be desensitized to the habit of smoking in adulthood.
There were two attempts at a national ban of cigarette candies in 1970 & 1990 but were overturned in both instances, with only North Dakota successfully banning sale of the product from 1953 – 1967.
Unfortunately, cigarette candy companies never fully recovered from the stigma since the first public outcry in 1970, with changes made to branding strategies that replaced the word “cigarettes” with “sticks” on packaging in a bid of winning back the trust of the public.
Candy cigarettes may have lost their initial popularity, but they remain a powerful symbol in the history of growing up.